Here's a good one: The prestigious British newspaper, the Nottingham Post, recently ran an online story about a visit by Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK, Dan Mulhall, to a courthouse in Nottingham where Roger Casement went on trial for treason. And, although there should have been nothing exceptional about the visit in the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, what grabbed public attention was the way the newspaper reported the event.
It said that the ambassador not only attended an exhibition “showcasing the life, crime, trial and subsequent legacy of Roger Casement”, but he also “paid his respects to a local regiment that helped his home country during the rebellion”.
Yes, that was newsworthy!
According to the Post, Ambassador Mulhall ‘acknowledged the contribution of the Sherwood Foresters Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, who were the first soldiers to arrive in Dublin following the 1916 Easter Rising.’ The line infantry regiment ‘suffered severe casualties in the armed insurrection, which was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland.’
Lest we forget, HH Asquith was the prime minister who ordered the Sherwood Foresters to Dublin with the purpose of crushing the revolution. However, the Foresters turned out to be as big an embarrassment to the British Army as the fellas from the Light Brigade who, during the Crimean War, charged stupidly into the ‘Valley of Death’ and were exterminated.
Similarly, on arrival in Dublin in 1916, the Sherwood Forest Regiment thundered down Mount Street and, in tally-ho assaults on Republican positions, they were caught in excellent defensive fire from a handful of Volunteers who mowed down 230 of the blighters. It was a disaster that shocked the British Army, even to this day.
The Foresters later covered up their ineptitude by enthusiastically assisting in the execution of the Easter Week leaders. After the North exploded in 1969, the regiment was deployed to that part of our country where it substantially added to an already disreputable history.
Regional BBC TV reported the ambassador’s visit to Nottingham, as did the London-based Irish World, which published Ambassador Mulhall’s comments as follows: ‘This year is the centenary of the Easter Rising and it has been a year in which we in Ireland have developed a new understanding of our history. We realise that our history runs through the Easter Rising but it also runs through the battlefields of the Somme.
‘It is great to be able to do something on the same weekend here in Nottingham about Roger Casement and on Sunday recognise those who died in British uniform but were Irish nationalists who fought and died for Ireland on the battlefields of the Somme.’
Experts in complex political semantics would have had little trouble interpreting the ambassador’s words (despite the weird bit about ‘Irish nationalists in British uniforms’) as the content was very much in line with that promoted in government circles, which insists that references to the 1916 Rising, or the North, must be free from any nationalist contamination.
References also must be accompanied by Charlie Flanagan-style mumbo jumbo, such as ‘parity of esteem,’ ‘inclusivity’ and, of course, ‘reconciliation.’ Words such as ‘nation-state’, ‘self-de termination’ or ‘republicanism’ must be avoided at all costs.
As our poppy-wearing Minister for Foreign Affairs puts it: ‘We owe it to ourselves to engage with history in all of its complexity and nuance, however inconvenient to our preferred narrative’... ‘Reconciliation is at the heart of how we approach the totality of 1916 ... we should not be selective in how we remember the events of 1916.’
But what Flanagan and the government to which he belongs forget is that such a distortion of history gets up the nostrils of the plain people of Ireland. They resent the dilution of our historical identity, the debasement of our national achievements and the dishonouring of heroes like Roger Casement, as happened in Nottingham.
The Nottingham shenanigans raises the question as to why Dan Mulhall felt obliged to honour the memory of executioners who did their damnest to strangle at birth the Republic of which he is now a plenipotentiary?
The 1916 Relatives Association was spot-on in a letter to the Irish Independent. They were taken aback at the fact that an Irish ambassador laid a wreath to the Sherwood Foresters Regiment whose firing squads executed many of the leaders of the Rising, including Tom Clarke, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.
‘Is this not being too inclusive and an insult to our ancestors?’ the writer of the letter, Barry Lyons, asked.
Answer: it was!
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, what about the last official letter Patrick Pearse wrote three days before his execution by the Sherwood Foresters? The letter calls for all volunteers ‘to lay down arms’ in order to ‘prevent further slaughter of the civil population’; and it’s coming up for auction next month.
But, according to commentator Tom Cooper, Kenny’s government does not intend to bid for the historic letter, as the purchase ‘would not constitute an efficient use of taxpayers’ money.’
Mr Cooper accuses Kenny & Co of lacking cultural and moral values and he suggests that the army of special advisers appointed by the government, ‘almost all of whom enjoy salaries which are significantly in breach of the government’s own pay cap, might offer wiser counsel to those cultural philistines in government.’ He believed such an act would constitute an efficient use of taxpayers’ money.
The inner soul
Leo McMahon, that much-missed ace reporter who recently retired, sent us these words of wisdom. Uttered in 1920 by HL Mencken – the famous American journalist, satirist, scholar and sage of Baltimore – they are applicable to a certain monster who is about to take office in the United States. Mencken said: ‘As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.’
Truth in the news
Some weeks ago we reminded readers of the loony headlines that sometimes confront us while settling down to our morning tea, toast and marmalade; headlines such as ‘Coffins found as workers demolish mausoleum’ and ‘Murder victims rarely talk to police.’
So, in response to a reader’s request, here are some others: ‘Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops significantly after age 25’; ‘Study Shows Frequent Sex Enhances Pregnancy Chances’; ‘Puerto Rican teen named mistress of the universe’. (Not funny – Ed)
What about these? ‘Council unsure why sewer smells’; ‘Starvation diet can lead to health problems’; ‘Miracle cure kills fifth person’; ‘Singers bring joy to school for deaf” (You’re fired – Ed).
Just one more! ‘The bra celebrates a pair of historic milestones this year!” (You’re definitely fired! – Ed).